Preserving Paradise: Greece’s Untouched Beaches

Greece’s Finance Ministry has drafted a list of the country’s most environmentally friendly beaches, with the majority in Mani and the island of Karpathos.

Eastern Mani in southern Greece, along with the islands of Karpathos and Syros, have emerged as havens for environmentally friendly beaches. This year, they will remain untouched by commercial activity, as they have been spared from the invasion of umbrella loungers. The decision comes as part of a list drafted by the Finance Ministry, comprising 198 pristine beaches spread across 49 municipalities. This list, published last week, marks a significant increase in the number of beaches without commercial leases compared to the previous year.

Notably absent from the list are the beaches in Argolida, located in the Peloponnese, and the famous Myrtos Beach in Kefalonia.


The exemption from sunbed rentals for some beaches located within the Natura 2000 Network areas has been in effect for over a decade. However, until now, the list remained incomplete, with unclear criteria defining the selection process. According to the latest legislation on beach leases, the new list is drawn up based on the opinion of the Natural Environment & Climate Change Agency (NECCA).

The selection criteria for these beaches primarily revolve around ecological considerations. They are chosen for their valuable coastal ecosystems, as important nesting sites for Caretta caretta sea turtles, as “key biodiversity areas” (KBAs), or as habitats significant for other critically endangered species. Despite their protected status, it’s important to note that all these beaches remain accessible to beachgoers.

The final version of the list, proposed by NECCA, was reviewed and approved by the Ministry of National Economy and Finance. The list comprises 198 “untouched” beaches, with the majority located in the islands and the Western Peloponnese.


The municipalities with the highest number of environmentally significant beaches are Eastern Mani (17), followed by Karpathos (13) and Syros (11). Other notable locations include Tilos and Fournoi, each with 9 “untouched” beaches, Alonnisos with 8, Naxos with 7, and the Municipalities of Pylos-Nestor, Kythira, Kalymnos, and Kimolos, each with 6.

Andros, Lesvos, Zakynthos, and Milos have 5 such beaches, while the Municipalities of Zacharo, Mesolongi, Karystos, Tinos, and Sikinos have 4 each.

One beach in Attica stands out: Schinias Beach, located in the heart of the eponymous national park.

Despite the increase in the number of untouched beaches, the decision-making process regarding the leasing or non-leasing of beaches for the development of umbrellas and sunbeds remains a contentious issue between the Ministry of National Economy and Finance and the municipalities.

While municipalities can provide a negative opinion on the leasing of a beach, the ministry is not obliged to respect their wishes. This has led to confrontations between the ministry and several municipalities, such as the recent case publicized by the Mayor of Paros, Kostas Bizas. Bizas requested that Mikri Santa Maria Beach not be leased from the Cyclades Land Office, but his request was not accepted.


Similar confrontations occurred last year with the ministry and other municipalities, such as the (previous) municipal council of Mykonos, which requested that five beaches not be leased, but their opinion was not respected.

This article was previously published in Greek at

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